SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Assault weapon, assault rifle, assault-style firearm -- those terms have become part of the daily discussion on national and even local media. And some people say that's an incorrect label giving a popular gun an undeservingly bad reputation.
One expert says it's not necessarily incorrect to call this kind of rifle "assault" but it fits more correctly into the modern and sporting rifle category.
It seemed no firearms dealer could escape the great gun surge of late 2012. And at the heart of a thick pile of paperwork on Gunsmoke customers that the store showed us last month are those adding a controversial style to their arsenal.
"This little rifle hardly has any felt recoil at all," said Mike Brooks, Outdoor Education supervisor at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Andy Dalton Shooting Range near Bois D'Arc.
Brooks wonders what all the fuss is about.
"I think people are hung up on this gun, its looks. Maybe a new person might find it a little bit intimidating, but it's not," said Brooks.
His small caliber AR-15 is used for sport shooting. Brooks says his is no more powerful than this: "you feed those bullets into the chamber of the gun by working the action, this is a bolt action gun."
The only difference is the assault or "sport rifle" takes a little less work.
"It's a little simpler to me. I like the semi-automatic action because you don't have to cycle the action manually so it allows you to get back on target a little quicker."
Semi-automatic -- one bullet per trigger pull, just like a barrage of handguns, revolvers, and shotguns. More importantly than the action, Brooks says, is the caliber of the round or the size of the bullet, and bigger is certainly more detrimental.
Maybe even most importantly, "It's about the person who is using, holding the gun. The firearm is an inanimate object, it can't think. The brains are in the person holding the gun."
That's why Brooks tries to educate shooters young. Then, he say, it doesn't matter what they scramble to buy; they'll know how to use it.
"That's really the key," Brooks said.
Brooks says people often confuse semi-automatic for fully-automatic. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made that exact mistake on ABC's "Nightline" recently. Fully-automatic means one trigger pull results in the release of multiple bullets.
They're legal if the owner pays a federal tax to the ATF, but you'll never be allowed to shoot one at the Andy Dalton Range.
In 2011, the FBI says handguns were used in more homicides than rifles.